The Federal Government is providing funding for independent scientific studies of the Isa Superbasin in Queensland to assess it as a potential area for the safe extraction of gas as part of the $30.4 million Geological and Bioregional Assessments Program.
The studies will be conducted by Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO, supported by the Bureau of Meteorology and managed by the Department of the Environment and Energy.
Extending approximately 56,000 square kilometres along the northern part of the Queensland-Northern Territory border, the Isa Superbasin was selected for its world-class petroleum source rocks, demonstrated shale gas flows and its proximity to pipeline infrastructure – all of which make it an excellent candidate to deliver new gas supplies to the East Coast Gas Market in the next five to ten years.
Minister for Energy and Environment, Josh Frydenberg, said, “As we work with states, territories and industry to get more gas to market, this initiative aims to not only boost supply to the eastern states, but also support strong regulation of unconventional gas projects.”
The independent scientific studies will assess the geology, water quantity, and quality of surface and groundwater as well as protected environmental assets to determine the potential impacts and environmental safety of shale and tight gas developments.
“Governments, industry and local communities must all be assured that our decisions about resources are based on a sound scientific understanding of the region’s geology and environmental values,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Minister for Resources, Matt Canavan, said increasing access to gas supplies will help create Australian jobs and support investment in regional Australia.
“It is vital that we unlock our gas resources and bring more gas to market. By taking steps to unlock our gas reserves, we will help put downward pressure on gas prices,” Mr Canavan said.
“This investment will make use of the best science to map and access our gas supplies to keep Australian industry running.”
Work on the Isa Superbasin assessment will begin in early 2018. It is the second region to be assessed as a potential source of gas by the Federal Government – the Cooper Basin in Queensland and South Australia having already been selected. The third and final region will be announced in coming months.